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This image epitomizes the way Nash’s work links Surrealism to an earlier British romanticism. It was made as an illustration to Thomas Browne's seventeenth-century essay Urne Buriall (on display close by). Another version of this drawing was also included in the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. Browne’s mystical treatise meditates on death and immortality. Nash’s drawing is based on a loose interpretation of the text. It shows, in Nash’s words, 'aerial habitations where the soul like a bird or some such aerial creature roamed at will'

September 2004